Since ASSA ABLOY’s establishment in Africa 21 years ago, it has expanded to more than 10 countries on the continent and several acquisitions have been made. Although the operational elements may differ from one country to another, they all have growing urbanization in common and it affects ASSA ABLOY in several ways.

“Urbanization leads to growth in retail and increases the need for security which ups demand for our products,” says Hayley Elwen, marketing and business development manager in South Africa. “We see a growing demand for critical infrastructure and telecommunication in particular, especially mobile solutions that don’t require electricity.”

ASSA ABLOY in Africa caters to a wide range of sectors including hotels, hospitals, universities, schools, airports, corporate environments, and homes as well as government facilities. And young people are an increasingly growing sector too. According to reports, more than half of Africa’s population is under the age of 19 and 19 percent are aged between 15 and 24 years old.

“There is a growing youth middle class, but for example in South Africa, unemployment is 27 percent, and youth unemployment is over 50 percent which leads to a lack of affordability in those segments,” says Hayley.

Many customers and distributors are found with the help of showrooms – retail shops as well as venues to showcase products. ASSA ABLOY generally enters the African market by setting up a showroom with a distributor in a region. If it goes well it becomes a company-owned showroom and once established in the region an office is set up. This was the case in Kenya, Uganda and now Ethiopia.

Urbanization leads to growth in retail and increases the need for security

And with a young population comes digitalization and for ASSA ABLOY this means a lot of interest is being shown in digital products. “The big shift happened from landlines to mobile very swiftly and we believe this creates positive opportunities for digital going forward,” Hayley says. “We look at creating sustainable solutions which work for an emerging and not very affluent new middle class – affordable, but good quality products which enable more people to access improved security,” Hayley concludes.

Over half of Africa’s population is under the age of 19